COUNCILLORS have agreed to seek specialist advice in order to ensure Dorchester's needs are met in a review of future development.

West Dorset District Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council are currently reviewing their local plan, which was adopted last year and sets out areas for future housing supply.

The review is looking to identify further areas for potential development on top of the 14,855 homes already earmarked in the adopted in plan.

In order to demonstrate a sufficient housing supply for the area up to 2036, as opposed to 2031 in the current plan, it is anticipated that provision for an additional 4,520 homes will need to be identified.

With a report going before West Dorset District Council's executive committee last month stating that the 'main towns' of Weymouth and Dorchester would be the 'highest priority locations for new development', members of Dorchester Town Council met to discuss their response to the local plan review.

Following a discussion behind closed doors, the issue was debated in public at a meeting of the town council's planning and environment committee.

Town clerk Adrian Stuart told members that they essentially had a number of options which ranged from an outright challenge to the district council's proposals to an acceptance of the numbers being put forward.

Councillors indicated a preference for another option, which was to seek specialist advice to so they could work with the district council to ensure that, for any new housing earmarked for Dorchester, there is appropriate infrastructure and other provisions in place.

Committee chairman Susie Hosford said that the council would need to be clear about the brief of what the specialists will look at and a dedicated panel was set up to come up with the terms of reference.

Cllr Robin Potter said: "I don't think there is any point in challenging the existence of new development around Dorchester but we need to insist there is appropriate infrastructure and connection to it."

Cllr Molly Rennie said that it was important to work with the surrounding parishes and other partners around the town as the plans take shape.

She said: "We may be in the centre of this but we are not alone in this."

The committee also agreed to work with the Dorchester Civic Society during the local plan review process.

Alan Rowley from the Civic Society said: "We would certainly welcome it if there are any opportunities to work with the town council."